Monday, June 29, 2009

Our raised beds

Kay, the big reveal... or something like that.

In truth, they're a little out of control. And I was really hoping to wait for the sunflowers to bloom before I posted pictures, but who knows how long that will really take. And actually, the tomato plants are so tall they're blocking the sunflowers anyway.

In order to satisfy everyone's before/after fix for the day, here we go:

It was quite a daunting project, as you can see. This thicket of weeds was the remnants of our garden last year. Let's just say it went a little untended with the wedding the the trip to Australia and the holidays and everything.


Notice how we actually have to move the dirt mound on the right before we can put the other 2 beds in.

Oh, they were so cute back then.

I found out quickly that the squash/cucumber trellis wasn't tall enough so I tied a few extra pieces of wood along each side.

Squash infestation.

The current jungle state. That's patty pan, butternut, japanese cucumber, zinnas, radish, tomatos, basil (and probably more) all tangled together.

Out. of. control.

The corners for our beds came from Burpee. Highly recommend their system as it takes all the engineering out of the project. You can get them here.

beach, yay

This weekend was largely devoted to all things revolving around this:

Isn't Laura's belly neat? (being that this if our first baby of the group, we're all pretty amazed by this whole pregnancy thing). We played smashball for hours in our bikinis and I'm pretty sure our fellow beach go-ers were thoroughly entertained watching her lunge for balls with her belly in tow.

It's always so nice to spend time with your girls.

Also, we found this on the way to breakfast on Sunday morning:

Free flowers are awesome, but even better because my friend Katya just posted this guy on her blog last week and we happened to drive by the same spot. The magic of the blog world. I'm starting to think that everyone should have one, or at least all of my friends. It would be so much easier to keep up with each others' lives.

It was a good weekend. And this is a very short week. Wednesday night I'm off to Nantucket. Anyone have any must-do's while we're there?

Friday, June 26, 2009

weekend with the girls

I'm down in San Diego for the weekend, spending lots of time with my bestest girlfriends from college and celebrating our first baby on the way. The mama-to-be, Laura, came in from Georgia, Nikki flew in from Switzerland, Joy is down from San Fran... But we'll miss our reps from Washington, Hawaii, and Australia. Plus some of us are boring and just drove down from LA. We're so spread out in our advancing age but it's nice to come together whenever we can manage and just laugh for the entire weekend.

We'll be eating lots of eggs (and squash), so here... you can virtually share with us.

Happy weekending.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

a sitting room...

full of sunshine and succulents. Wouldn't you die to have one?

From Melanie's dear friend Kate's house (her mom's house actually), an insanely beautiful, special, walk-around-with-jaw-on-the-floor type of California craftsman in Hollywood.

This sunroom used to be a porch on the second floor but some time in it's history, was enclosed and turned in a perfect home for books and plants and afternoon readers.

I wish I had a better picture, but alas...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

need this garden

Did anyone else see this in July's Martha?

I nearly fell off my chair.

But then again, how could you possibly eat all of that food? we can barely BARELY give away all the stuff coming out of our garden right now. Though I should mention that most of that stuff is squash and really, people can only eat so much of it.

Next year I will turn our ENTIRE BACKYARD into raised beds and get a stand at the farmer's market and live a fruitful life of food growing and cooking.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

i left them out

It was really more of a time and busy-ness issue than a conscious decision. Melanie was all for letting them roam and we decided that if someone showed intense fear we would certainly put them away.

(see her there under the chair?)

Or if they started jumping on tables. Which they actually did. WHAT?? They all of a sudden became little social butterflies scavenging around under people's feet, hoping for teensy crumbs of cheese and beet dip and crudite. Which everyone seemed to think was great fun, or least sufficiently novel, until the jumping on the tables. I didn't even know they could jump that high. Luckily that didn't happen until just about dinner time which was when they needed to go into their coop anyway.

Funny times with farm animals at a party. Though really, the women were in general pretty excited about seeing chickens roaming about. Nice call everyone! Thanks for your advice.

Even though I kind of knew what you were going to say.

More pics soon. I was mostly incapacitated from exhaustion for the rest of the weekend so I haven't gotten around to sifting through the photos.

Friday, June 19, 2009

tablecloths + advice

YAY. Friday you are here.

Do you like my vintage tablecloths I've diligently won on ebay over the last few weeks? 2 were my grandma's but the rest are the result of hours of clicking and subsequent overbidding. I believe I mentioned that I was having a small problem with ebay as of late? But look at my spoils:

aren't they cute?

They are going to be perfect strewn about the tables on the back patio tomorrow eve. But the big question is, should I let the chickens roam free when the ladies are about?

They are relatively well behaved as chickens go. And they mostly keep to themselves. It's just that I'd have to put them away before 5 and that's like a full 3 hours before they normally go back into their coop.

Plus wouldn't it be cute to see chickens scratching around during my rustic-barn-wedding-that-I-didn't-get-so-I-instead-disguised-it-as-my-sister-in-law's-shower?

See her there, above the wheel barrow that I'm going to use as an open cooler-thing for wine? (I had to do a test run when I got home to find the rentals delivered and in the backyard). Wouldn't she make a nice addition?

Opinions please. Brock thinks I should put them away. But he doesn't know. Necessarily.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

radish salad, as requested

Remember that radish salad I said I made a few weeks back? It's so simple it really doesn't need a recipe. Probably this picture is plenty to make your own, but I'll list the ingredients just in case.

Olive Oil

You could probably add something spicy (maybe a jalapeño) to jazz it up. Or some cotija cheese? Or really anything. But it's pretty good just like this. Not my finest concoction, mind you. But pretty good.

Also, I should mention, that in something as simple as this the ingredients make all the difference. A perfect avocado and really fresh radishes with good quality olive oil yield a completely different salad than one made with less ideal substitutions.

It's almost Friday, which is my big party prep day. Yay.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

the weekend, on wednesday

So much for seeing you all on Monday. Some weeks are just like that, you know? First, a big hi-hello-welcome-thanks for coming over to peeps from Simple Lovely! It was so nice to see all of your sweet comments come in over the weekend. I do hope you enjoy yourself, and maybe even come back.

So much going on right now, some of which really doesn't make me want to sit in front of my computer at night, but then again this is fun too.

The weekend was... good.

We took a nice hike up through Temescal Canyon on Friday and found a few flowers still in the throws of spring. This one was so pretty with it's furry yellow insides. But what is it?

My brother did a demo at a glass studio open house (he's a glassblower), and it was really fun to watch him work. He's lived out of state since college and is finally back to start grad school. It's good to have a brother around.

I was pretty into the little bits of colored glass scattered under the work bench. I took one home (thinking I'd make it into a Christmas ornament?) but it broke into a hundred pieces in my purse. Like my brother said it would.

More prep for this weekend's party. So glad it's here, though I could use a few more weekends to make perfect little wine tasting bottle numbers and cards and things. Instead I made balsamic cherries for the cheese platter. They are divine and require little thought. Here is the "recipe": Balsamic, brown sugar, vanilla bean, cherries. I literally made it up over the stove.

And look who finally found the backdoor in a small, curious herd. They were so funny inching their way deeper into the laundry room and then the kitchen. We are getting to know each other, the chickens and I. Though, for the record, they are not allowed in the house. I had to get a picture before I shooed them out.

And now the week begins. And is almost over. It's weird how weeks do that.

Friday, June 12, 2009

blogger faves on simple lovely

Forgot to mention, I'm on Simple Lovely today sharing some of my favorite things. If you don't know Simple Lovely, you must go read Joslyn's blog. I totally love it. And she's so nice.

Kay, bye.

champagne + soup for weekend indulgence

I just discovered this champagne/sparkling wine.

I'm thinking it might make a delightful addition to Melanie's bridal shower. Perhaps you've had it before? I'm not a reliable connoisseur of the bubbly, but I'm pretty into this Sofia Blanc De Blancs. It's a little sweet and perfectly floral. And goes nicely with spicy summer squash soup.

Have a positively beautiful weekend. I can't wait to get my hands dirty out back.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

sprouted kitchen


I would like to live in this blog. Actually I would like to live in many blogs, but this one is looking very inviting at the moment.

Sprouted Kitchen (good name).

via We Met in a Bar

more preparation

But not for the party. This is really important preparation and it involves a new purchase of the skirted sort.

See we're going to Nantucket for 4th of July weekend. Which is very very exciting for someone from the other coast. I've never been and it seems like if you were to go, 4th of July weekend would be like the jackpot for absorbing the Nantucket vibe. Or not, but I'm going to get excited about it anyway.

I'm fairly certain that no one would expect me to go on this little trip without a new swimsuit at the very least. And it would need to be a special swimsuit. One that feels old-timey? Not a neon string bikini, (which I've noticed is making a comeback). I found the one I want. Actually, it's more like a desperate need.

SKIRT!!!!! I tried it on a few weekends ago but I've been resisting the purchase. However, I keep visiting it online which I think tells me that I really do want it and probably in fact deserve it for practicing such good delay of gratification tactics.

It is also nice for those of us who may be feeling slightly less svelte than 7 months ago at the peak of our fitness... which would be our wedding. We are now old and married and need something to cover our thighs. Anyone with me?

Buri Suit from Anthro

Nantucket pic from flickr.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

preparing and general puttering

Sorting through my linen closet in search of table cloths for the upcoming party, I found a little stack of handmade aprons from my great grandma. I love the old details. My mom's side of the family was an impressive DIY group, and truly I think the inspiration for my long-standing interest in kitchen crafts and homemade things.

The "winning hearts and minds cake" from A Homemade Life. It's now safely in the the freezer waiting. I really really hope it keeps as beautifully as Molly says.

I'm slightly appalled that I actually made something requiring three bottles of food coloring, but red velvet cupcakes seemed like such a fine, whimsical addition to my dessert spread. These are also stacked in the freezer for the next 2 weeks. I'm thinking coconut cream cheese frosting. Anyone have any better suggestions?

(Cupcake papers from Bake it Pretty. You will die if you haven't been to this site yet).

And fresh radishes. It's amazing how much spicier they are when they come from your own garden. I don't think I can ever go back. Luckily they grow super fast so if you keep reseeding, you'll always have them at the ready. I made a really delicious salad of radish, avocado, cilantro and lime on Sunday. I must make it again and share.

Friday, June 5, 2009

quiet time menu planning

Hi. I just finished cleaning out the chicken coop. For some reason I didn't figure this in to the whole 'backyard chickens' thing. What fun.

And this afternoon I'm spending some quality time pouring over recipes for Melanie's shower. It is UM close. Like only 2 more planning weekends.

Cookbooks are stacked up on the couch waiting for me to finish puttering around the backyard and picking up the house. I find it impossible to properly relax when my space is not in order. Is that weird? Sometimes I wish I could just let things be, but I cannot. Starting the weekend messy is not my thing.

Does anyone else steal menus from restaurants and stash them between the pages of your favorite cookbooks? I am shameless about it. As in when the waiter takes our order and attempts to collect our menus I always say, OH actually I think I'll keep one in case we want to order something else. And then the moment she turns her back I stuff it in my purse.


These are from AOC, Boulette's Larder (where I'd be perfectly happy living out my days), and Osteria Mozza.

I only take them if they appear of the temporary sort, I should mention. I'm not THAT bad.

Happy weekend you all.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

i've fallen off the wagon

I can go months without opening ebay. Months. I practically forget it's there. Really. But then it's like once you start with the searching and clicking and watching and bidding, things go down hill v. v. quickly.

It's been a while ebay, but you are back in my life. And it's not good. It started with a simple search for wallpaper to line Melanie's invite envelopes. And now I am deep in the vortex.

I'm in desperate need of a vintage french grain sack to hang in my kitchen. (or lentil sack. that would work too). And you can always use a midcentury end table. Plus we ruuullllly need a new lamp for our bedroom. That one is super cute but there are already 19 bids... don't these people understand the last minute sneak attack??? They are driving the price up for everyone.

French straw ticking? Surely I will need a length of such cloth at some point in my life.

2 of my current favorite sellers:

Antique Vintage European Textiles

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Roasted beets in their (arguably) finest hour

Beet fans, get ready. This is one of my standby, time tested, crowd pleasing recipes that I've really been meaning to post since I started this blog. It seems like every time I've made it in the last year or so it's already been dark in the kitchen, which means no photos good enough for the blogosphere. I hope it proves worth the wait.

Salad of roasted beets with avocado, mint + lime

(adapted from AXE (ah-shay) restaurant in Venice).

The preparation of this is really simple. The only time consuming part is the roasting and peeling of the beets, but I can assure you that temporarily stained finger tips are a minor and worthwhile inconvenience for such a delicious dish. And the recipe (like all of mine) is very loose.

you'll need:

2 bunches small to medium size beets. (Mixed varieties are great. In this version I used red and chiogga.)

3 limes

1 large, ripe avocado (but not too ripe, you want it to hold it's own in the salad)

1 large handful of fresh mint leaves

1 medium - large shallot

good quality olive oil

sea salt


Heat oven to 400.

Wash and trim beets. Wrap each in a jacket of aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Pop the beets into the oven and roast for ~30 minutes. When they're ready, you should be able to easily slide a paring knife through the foil and into the center of the largest of your beets. When the beets are done, remove them from the oven and let them rest until their are warm, but you're able to handle them.

While the beets are cooling, prep the rest of your ingredients. Peel and mince the shallot, (you should have about 1/4 cup or so). Wash and prepare the mint leaves in a chiffonade (long, thin strips). Pit and slice your avo into bit size pieces. I usually leave this until just before mixing the salad together so the avo doesn't get brown. Juice the limes.

Now unwrap the beets and slide the skins off. They should come off very easily. Slice the beets into even, bite size chunks and/or wedges. In a large-ish bowl, toss the beets with a pour of olive oil, a little salt and pepper. They should taste good on their own at this point. Now add the lime juice (a bit at a time so you can control how limey you like your salad), the mint, the shallot and the avocado. You might want to add a little more oil at this point, depending on your personal preference. Mix everything well but gently. You don't want to smash your lovely pieces of avocado. Taste. You might find that you need more salt, more lime, or more mint.

And, yep, that's it. So delicious. I like to serve this with a pile of mixed greens and some yummy bread for lunch, but it also makes a beautiful summer dinner.

If you really want the flavors to come together, consider making the entire dish sans avocado the day before you want to serve it. Keep it in the fridge and then add the avocado when you're ready to serve. Something about a night spent together makes the lime and mint really come together.

Doesn't it look like a pile of jewels? I love beets.

Monday, June 1, 2009

bits from the weekend

It's a sadly dreary monday this morning (um, summer? where art thou?), kind of rainy and grey and not at all the way I like to start the week. I also have to report to jury duty. Which I suppose is kind of perfect, in that monday sort of way. Though I do intend to march into the funny little waiting room and fill out the yellow slip of paper declaring my need for postponement. Again.

So instead of dwelling on such inconveniences as returning to work and fulfilling my civic duty, I will share some weekend shots. It was also grey, and fast, but moderately productive and always satisfying.

Thinning breakfast radishes. Always sad.

But less so when you get to feed the seedlings to your chickens. (I swear I will get tired of posting on the chickens one day).

4 eggs from 4 chickens... we sold the impossibly loud white one on craigslist on Saturday. Love craigslist.

Burgundy okra babies giving it a go in California. Everything grows in California, right?

Hung the lights for Melanie's shower. T-minus 3 weeks. Must start serious menu planning this week.

Pretty dried protea family flowers from last month. Love that they keep looking lovely even when you forget to refill their water for weeks.

And jewel-y roasted beets. Truly one of the most delicious of all simple foods.

There now. Maybe monday won't be so bad.